Fourteen U.S. Senators this week called on the World Trade Organization to investigate a February, 2013 decision by the European Commission to impose a tariff of $83.20 per metric ton on all U.S. ethanol imports.
The decision was a resolution following a November, 2011 complaint that U.S. ethanol importers were selling the fuel below cost into European markets – or "dumping" – a practice that EU ethanol producers say caused ethanol prices in Europe to fall.
The senators’ letter said the the European Commission's action establishes a "troubling precedent that could unilaterally change the limits of international anti-dumping laws."
Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., said that the tariff may violate provisions of the WTO agreement on anti-dumping, and called for more information about how the Commission conducted its investigation.
"We urge USTR and Commerce to evaluate its ruling to ensure that no WTO commitments have been violated," Thune said in a press statement.
Ethanol groups were equally concerned after the initial tariff announcement. At the time, American ethanol groups Renewable Fuels Association and Growth Energy both said the tariff was "outrageous" and "based on absolutely no facts or evidence of harm."
Both RFA's Bob Dineen and Growth Energy's Tom Buis again commented on the tariff and the senators' latest action, explaining that, "The EU Commission failed to make any particular finding of dumping by any producer or marketer investigated in connection with the case," and if allowed to stand, the tariff would "dramatically change the boundaries and limits of international anti-dumping law."
The letter was co-authored by Sens. Thune and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and cosponsored by Sens. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, Al Franken, D-Minn., Mike Johanns, R-Neb., Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., Deb Fischer, R-Neb., Tim Johnson, D-S.D., John Hoeven, R-N.D., Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., Pat Roberts, R-Kan., Dick Durbin, D-Ill. and Roy Blunt, R-Mo.